Thailand is a diverse country with many different types of destinations, though the nation is probably best known for its beaches. And why not? Some of the most beautiful and fun-filled stretches of sand in the world are located here.
So even though most people have access to plenty of beaches closer to home, they still choose to fly for 12-15 hours – or longer – just to see Thailand’s sands. But out of all these different options, where are the best of these seaside destinations? There are plenty of choices worth checking out, but the following 10 are on the top of most people’s to-visit lists:
1. CHAWENG BEACH
Chaweng Beach is the largest and most popular beach on the island of Koh Samui. At 7km in length, it is also the longest beach on the island’s east coast. While the central part of the beach can get crowded at times, the quieter north and south areas can provide a welcome relief from the music and activity of the party scene.
Whether your preference is for tranquil relaxation or wild revelry, you’ll find that the popularity of Chaweng beach gives you plenty of options for great nightlife spots, shops, dive outfitters, tour guides and some of the best restaurants on Koh Samui. Visiting Chaweng beach will give you a taste of everything that Koh Samui has to offer without having to travel too far.
2. SAIREE BEACH
Located on the end of the popular island of Koh Tao, Sairee Beach is a place of soft sand and clear water. Thanks to these desirable features, Sairee is most popular with snorkelers and scuba divers. Even beginning snorkelers can reach the colorful underwater scenery without straying too far from the shore.
Though Sairee is a decidedly relaxed place, there are also some fun nightlife options and decent restaurants in the area to enjoy when you’re done exploring the coastline of Koh Tao.
3. LAMAI BEACH
Koh Samui’s Lamai Beach is quieter than its more-popular neighbor, Chaweng. That said, people still venture out to this lengthy stretch of sand, which means that the area includes all the necessary services that make for a quintessential Thai vacation experience: beach villas, bungalows, beachside bars and seafood shacks.
The best thing about Lamai is that, more than any other beach on Koh Samui, it offers Thailand’s trademark easy-going atmosphere. It’s no wonder than many tourists who stay near Lamai end up choosing to come back again and again.
4. MAE NAM BEACH
Mae Nam is another beach that’s worth checking out on Koh Samui. This spot is popular with expats and long term travelers, as it’s quieter than other beaches on the island and offers a lot of cheap-but-comfortable bungalows. Some larger resorts have come to the area because of its palm-fringed beauty and lack of crowds, but a low-key atmosphere still dominates.
Mae Nam is most famous for its stunning sunsets. Even if you don’t stay here while you’re on the island, consider taking a trip to the sand in the evening to view this natural splendor.
5. KOH MUN NORK
This tiny island in the Gulf of Siam has only one resort and one amazing beach – if you’re looking for a deserted island experience, this is your place. Currently, Koh Mun Nork can only be reached by boat, and the only way to get tickets for that boat is through the island’s resort.
With such a limited number of guests, there’s never any danger of noise or crowds here. It will just be you, a few other guests, and endless hours of swimming, sunning or swinging in one of the resort’s hammocks.
6. HUA HIN BEACH
Unlike other beach resort areas in Thailand, Hua Hin – only a couple of hours from Bangkok – is more popular with domestic tourists, not international visitors. The beach here is wide and relatively clean, and the town of Hua Hin has some great resorts and hotels that tend to be cheaper than their rivals on Phuket and Koh Samui.
Hua Hin has a funky vibe, as its long popularity with Thai tourists has created a retro kind of ambiance from the early days of Hua Hin’s success. Take in the scenery here, but be sure to schedule a trip to beautiful Sam Roi Yot National Park, located nearby.
7. BOTTLE BEACH
Koh Phangan is known for its parties and beach life – a reputation that keeps some tourists away. Bottle Beach, however, is an ideal spot on the popular island that doesn’t really fit with Phangan’s party image. This beach can only be reached by boat, making it a delightfully uncrowded alternative to more popular beaches on the island.
8. NAI HARN BEACH
Nai Harn is something very rare – an undiscovered beach on the super-popular island of Phuket. This is where Phuket’s locals come when they want to get away. Located on the southern edge of the island, the beach is basically a few hotels, resorts and restaurants that are set on the edge of the jungle next to the thin fringe of clean sand. While it doesn’t offer all the amenities you’ll find on Patong or Chaweng, the beach’s pristine natural beauty makes a trip here worth your time.
9. TONSAI BEACH
Tonsai Beach is yet another spot that can only be reached by boat. Located in Krabi, this beach is popular with kayakers, who paddle here from more-populated areas. There are a couple of moderately priced hotels near the shore, though, so you could choose to stay long-term if you wanted.
In addition to exploring the beach by water, set aside a few minutes to climb the stunning limestone rock formations that sit right next to the sand. The views will astound you!
10. PHRA NANG BEACH
Framed by towering limestone formations, Phra Nang beach boasts postcard-like views. This beach is remote, sitting on the tip of the Railay Peninsula, and is mostly visited by rock climbers who come to scale the nearby formations. To check it out, hail a long-tail boat in nearby Ao Nang and get ready to enjoy one of Thailand’s most peaceful, undisturbed beaches.
No matter what your needs are or how you enjoy vacationing, you’ll find a Thai beach that suits your preferences. Some beaches are great for partying, others for relaxing and some for enjoying an uncrowded and natural paradise. Whatever your definition of the perfect beach, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on your Thailand vacation.